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October 8, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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Hypochondria Will Save My Life

Self-diagnosis for the self-respecting

As LilWayne famously put it,“Motherfucker I’m ill”.

I’ve had it all. Cancer of almost every body part, numerous heart attacks, and even medical conditions as rare and descriptively- named as “Black Hairy Tongue”. According to my doctor however, I am—and always have been—in perfectly good health. Except, perhaps, for a chronic and inoperable case of hypochondria.

Hypochondria, for the uninitiated, is defined as the preoccupation with having serious illnesses, even when there may not be (read: often isn’t) any medical evidence to support the presence of such conditions. In other words, making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, as the case was when I was 13, a tumour out of a pimple.

Throughout my life, friends, relatives, and self-help books have tried to persuade me that such a preoccupation is unhealthy, but I disagree. Hypochondria will save my life, and it could save yours too.

With the rapid rise of the information superhighway, many medical professionals have expressed concern at the growing number of patients diagnosing themselves online. According to a study I found while researching why my eyes looked greener last week (probably onset blindness), one in four women regularly turn to Dr Google for medical advice. Now that is a statistic I can get behind! I still remember when I first discovered the joys of informative medical web forums like Yahoo! Answers. In just a few minutes you can get yourself some peace of mind with a myriad of disease and illness to match your spurious symptoms. After all, there’s nothing like a Latin name and a list of Chinese Herbal Remedies to put a girl’s mind at ease when she has an itchy armpit.

It was shortly after this discovery and resulting peak in self- diagnosis that my mother banned me from raising any medical issues with her. In the face of such fascism, my stepfather and I soon formed a pact in which we would offer each other sympathy and concern for all bumps and bruises. This agreement fell apart shortly after, when he became concerned with the frequency of my insistence that we both take quizzes on heart health. Several years later he underwent major heart surgery; now that he’s in great health I think it’s fair to say that hypochondria won that round.

But my hypochondria has not only helped me to help myself and others, it’s also provided me with future job security. If my current course of study fails to provide me with fruitful employment, I may rest assured that hypochondria has supplied me with sufficient knowledge to get through the first two years of medical school.

In fact, in my final year of high school, I was able to so accurately diagnose the unique flavour of my phlegm as symptomatic of bronchitis, that even the doctor was surprised by how early I’d caught on to the presence of the infection in my lungs. While knowing this much detail about flavours of phlegm might seem pretty gross, let’s just remember that I wasn’t the one attempting to sit NCEA Level 3 exams with mucus-laden bronchi.

If nothing else, hypochondria leaves its sufferers with an eternally optimistic disposition; for if you can survive the most chronic and debilitating conditions time and time again, the world is your veritable oyster. For a brighter future, diagnose yourself today! ▲

MoLOLy McCarthy is a fourth-year in law and French, and is currently serving a stint as Salient’s in house LOL news writer. MoLOLy was Salient’ news editor in 2010.    

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